February 14, 2019
CULPEPER, VA – Ben Hixon, Democratic Party candidate for the 17th Senate, welcomes Amy Laufer to the race and pledges to support her should she be the nominee. He released the following statement:
I’d like to congratulate Amy Laufer for officially joining the campaign to defeat Bryce Reeves, and I pledge to support her should she be our nominee.
A competitive primary will increase the likelihood that we defeat Bryce Reeves in November, which is why we’re fortunate that Amy is also running and that the 17th Senate District nominating committee has voted for a state-run primary instead of a caucus. I have long been a fierce advocate for the benefits of state-run primaries. When I ran for the Democratic nomination to the House of Delegates in the 30th district against Nick Freitas in 2017, we used a caucus instead of a state-run primary. Even though I won the caucus, I believed it was a major missed opportunity to generate attention to the race, to sharpen myself as a candidate, and to allow more voters to participate in the nomination process.
In 2018 under my chairmanship, the Culpeper County Democratic Committee played a pivotal role in securing a primary in the 7th Congressional District to choose our nominee against Dave Brat. We were the only county committee to pass a resolution in favor of a primary. I authored the resolution and presented it in person to the 7th Congressional District Democratic Committee. The district committee was deadlocked between a primary and a caucus, and its first round of voting resulted in a tied vote.
District Chairwoman Abbi Easter graciously allowed me to remain during the closed door session and continue to speak on behalf of a primary, and eventually the committee voted in favor of a primary instead of a caucus. Abigail Spanberger’s primary victory against a formidable opponent, Dan Ward, gave her campaign an adrenaline shot of momentum that never faded and carried Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger to victory over Congressman Dave Brat. Competitive primaries are not only more Democratic; they also create better candidates for the general election.
Senator Reeves does not represent the values of tolerance and neighborliness held by our district, and he has used his position as our State Senator as a political stepping stone to run for higher office. I’m looking forward to a friendly campaign with Amy Laufer over the next four months, and then to the Democratic Party nominee defeating Bryce Reeves in November and flipping the Virginia Senate.
Ben is a computer scientist and researcher with multiple publications in the field of artificial intelligence. He is the immediate past Chairman of the Democratic Party of Culpeper County and in 2017 was the Democratic Party nominee against Delegate Nick Freitas for the 30th district of the House of Delegates. The 17th Senate district is considered a toss-up and comprises Orange County, Fredericksburg City, and parts of Spotsylvania, Culpeper, Albermarle, and Louisa Counties. Ben lives in Culpeper with his partner of 15 years, Christopher, a librarian.
Hixon for Senate
wITH PASSING COMMENTS ON LOCAL, STATE, AND NATIONAL POLITICS
Readers of the Star Exponent have known me for some years now. Since August of 2014 one hundred and ten columns have appeared in these pages without ever missing a deadline. I have been assisted in this effort by able friends, most notably David Reuther, but also Thom Faircloth and George DeSerres, all of Culpeper. This has been a demanding experience, but a very fulfilling one. I am pleased to announce that I am passing the baton to David, and I am sure you will continue to enjoy this column under his leadership. Many thanks to Editor Emily Jennings for facilitating this transition.
I am far from alone in thinking the State of the Union address was not a unifying message. It wasn’t one that would make Democrats want to work with him. President Donald Trump mildly suggested bipartisanship while still throwing red meat to his base. He tangled with Democratic women who cheered and congratulated each other when he pointed out their gains in the House of Representatives. His response? “You weren’t supposed to do that.” He did not acknowledge House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She did, however, give him that pointed handclap that has now famously gone viral.
There was no mention of Robert Mueller as Trump proclaimed to Congress: “An economic miracle is taking place in the United States—and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics, or ridiculous partisan investigations. If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation. It just doesn’t work that way.” That line fell incredibly flat, as even Republicans balked at applause. Inexplicably, there was no mention of the meaningless government shutdown that cost billions of dollars, and inflicted suffering and financial pain not only on federal employees and contractors but also on the communities where they work and live throughout the nation. There was no mention of continuing gun violence, and no mention of climate change.
Now, after attempting to control all three branches of government for the past two years, Trump cries “presidential harassment” as the legislative branch begins to once again practice its legitimate oversight as part of our Constitutional checks and balances.
Meanwhile, Virginia is experiencing its own political dumpster fire as the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General continue to be embroiled in their own individual scandals. Ralph Northam’s yearbook photos and the allegations against Justin Fairfax were sprung on unsuspecting citizens by “Big League Politics,” a far-right media website founded by a former reporter for the Daily Caller and Breitbart News, also known for their extremism and conspiracy theories. Mark Herring, at least, confessed to and begged forgiveness for his blackface antics before being exposed.
There is good news, believe it or not.
Locally, Amy Laufer, who has served on the Charlottesville school board, will be formally kicking off her campaign for the Democratic state senate nomination against Culpeper’s incumbent Republican Senator Bryce Reeves (SD17) on Saturday, February 16th. She will be visiting constituents all over the district, which is made up of Fredericksburg, Orange County and parts of Louisa, Spotsylvania, Culpeper and Albemarle counties. She will be at the Raven’s Nest on Saturday, Feb. 16 from 4 to 4:45 p.m. She will face Ben Hixon in the June Democratic primary election.
While the Virginia GOP appears to prefer relegating Virginia women and girls to the 19th century by voting against the 2019 Equal Rights Amendment Act, we Democrats must keep our chins up, and never give up or give in. We might think about forgiveness. We have elections to win in November.
Editor’s note: This letter originally appeared in the February 9th edition of the Culpeper Star-Exponent, and has been reposted here, with the authors’ permission.
The decision to commit to the option to proceed with the prospect of the Shannon Hill industrial site was controversial to some. However, every member of the Louisa County Board of Supervisors has sworn to uphold what they believe to be right, serving in the best interests of all residents of our county. Decisions are supposed to be devoid of politics and personal interests, even when unpopular to some.
During my career, there have been many moments of truth. To meet the challenge one must conduct heavy research and analysis and then test results with learned individuals. The conclusion is further evaluated by the cost of doing it or not.
In this case, there was no risk involved because the cost of the land with the option was so low, it provides us with the fail-safe of future resale should we not proceed. The risk of not doing this, however, is paramount.
The opportunity of having a successful, modest industrial site located in a designated growth area that would derive substantial income to offset escalating expenses deserves our support. Every board member should always be considering valid alternatives to the much easier solution to offset rising expenses and raising taxes.
I have a history of being more conservative with other people’s money than my own. Being on the board of supervisors carries considerable responsibility which must be met through “the courage of one’s convictions.”
Green Springs District Supervisor
To simply state there is a loss of trust in our elected officials, is such a gross understatement as to be almost laughable with the current state of affairs.
From D.C.with the lies,misinformation and blame-slinging during the 35-day federal government shutdown, to the growing turmoil in the General Assembly in Richmond, to our secret megasite, with its hidden agendas, grossly over exaggerated numbers and false claims, regional partners, and stunning reversal by our local board of supervisors, I think I speak for most people when I say, “we don’t trust you.”
And, there is little hope that we will trust you again as long as you remain in office. Don’t try to rationalize or explain, we don’t believe you.
Calling this a good business decision, as Supervisors Tommy Barlow and Willie Gentry did before reversing their previous votes, is a joke. If it was a good business decision, taxpayers would support it and someone would have already developed it. It’s only a “good” business decision if the county spends another $30 million to $40 million in tax dollars to provide water, sewage treatment and a gas line to the property, and a “good” industry moves here to accept our handout.
This land purchase just gives supervisors a chance to throw more good money after bad, our tax money, to expand on their already bad mistake, the James River water line, still not providing one drop of water to Louisa County. And, the board will only allow the water for industry, none to single family housing? We know we can’t trust you to keep that promise either.
In a sad, ironic twist, last Sunday’s Richmond Times Dispatch contained an article with the headline, “Industrial megasites sit empty in Virginia despite hefty spending.” Speakers have been mentioning that unfortunate little fact to the board since this secret plan was outed. Megasites sit empty all over Virginia. To megasite proponents it’s because Virginia hasn’t spent enough tax money, $100 million in Virginia so far, to get sites ready or made incentives, tax breaks and other giveaways, large enough to the biggest, richest corporations in the world.
In reality, megasites aren’t coming because industry isn’t building them. Times have changed. Our planners, in secret, have been looking backwards into the past for solutions for our future.
Want confirmation we can’t trust them, check the numbers their consultants came up with for this megasite. In four years, unknown industries will be spending $200 million a year in Louisa and will spend that much every year for the next 15 years. And, that $200 million a year is the low estimate Mangum Consultants came up with, but admit, often, they could be wrong. Could be wrong, that we believe.
One thing the board can trust, the whole county is still watching, closely, unlike Supervisor Bob Babyok’s lie that only a handful of site locals are opposed. Trust that, because we know we can’t trust you.
Editor’s note: This letter originally appeared in the January 31st edition of the Central Virginian, and has been reposted here, with the authors’ permission.
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